The anime Pokemon welcomes its twentieth anniversary this year and celebrates with the movie Pokémon the Movie 20: I Choose You!, which began showing in Japanese cinemas on 15 July. The movie focuses on the story of Ash and Pikachu meeting each other from the anime series’ first season. Pokemon from each generation and the not-yet-known Marshadow make their appearance. It is an original story aimed at both old and new Pokemon fans.
In accordance with the new games, the anime’s titles will also go through changes. There are very few characters who appear in multiple series. One of those is the main character Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town (known as Satoshi in the Japanese version).
Rica Matsumoto, who voices Ash, sang many opening theme songs for the Pokemon series. What kind of feelings did Matsumoto, who has been deeply involved with the Pokemon anime, feel for these 20 years? We spoke to her about the history and the future of Ash and Pokemon.
[Reporting/Composition – Hitomi Okumura]
Pokémon the Movie 20: I Choose You!
Released Saturday 15 July 2017.
20 years singing ‘Mezase Pokemon Master’
When you heard the title and content of this year’s movie, what did you think?
Since it is the milestone of the twentieth work, it is a story that even those who are watching for the first time can enjoy. Pokemon has spent 20 years with everyone. Getting lonely, getting disheartened, no matter when, Pokemon was a place to come home to… I Choose You! is exactly that kind of movie.
What did you think about going back to when Ash and Pikachu met?
Now that 20 years have passed, I am very glad to act out when they first met one more time. The opening theme is called ‘Mezase Pokemon Master -20th Anniversary-‘, but I didn’t sing with the feeling of returning to my original feelings. The song was made 20 years ago, but it is a song I kept singing so it was a very natural feeling.
How did you feel about recording ‘Mezase Pokemon Master -20th Anniversary-‘ and the finished product?
I felt that the depths of the song have sunk further into me. I was already singing as if it was a support song saying ‘I’ll definitely become a Pokemon Master!’, but the recording this time… I felt like it was a song to cheer me on as well. With the heartfelt shout of ‘I will become (a Pokemon Master)’ I really reflected on those words. The emotion behind those words has become stronger than before. The human part of me, or more like the passionate side, was more obvious.
Now that I think about it, there wasn’t much time until the original ‘Mezase Pokemon Master’ went on air. The song was decided on the last minute and the recording was one week later. It was a very rushed schedule. Of course, I properly understood the lyrics when I sang it at that time too, but I felt like I was overwhelmed with trying to express them.
You can feel the importance of having sung the song for 20 years.
It’s really not an exaggeration to say that I was asked to sing all around the country and overseas as well. When I look back on it, it was really amazing. I think, ‘I was really trying my best.’ Even when the anime wasn’t being produced, I went to many places and sang ‘Mezase Pokemon Master’. I was really shocked when the show was suspended but I toured the country believing that everyone’s beloved Pokemon would begin again. The children, everyone sang together. I sang many different songs with Pokemon, but because we really dug in during the rough times for ‘Mezase Pokemon Master’, it is special to me and holds the most memories. I want to keep singing it and not turn it into some nostalgic song.